Saturday, November 10, 2012

Elections – Here and There

After a rigorous election campaign, which was running almost for a couple years, the US Presidential elections are finally over. President Obama comfortably defeated his Republican counterpart, Mitt Romney. While I was not following the campaign related news zealously, I was definitely glued to the TV on the D-Day and a day prior, when the pre-election stats and predictions were going on in full swing. And there were some stark differences I observed between the American election scenario and the India one. The first thing I noticed prominently was the supporters of both the worthy candidates had American flags. No one was without the American flag and not a single American citizen was seen holding the flag of any political party. This is a huge indicator of the fact that the nation and the feeling of nationalism is far more important than the parochial considerations which come with supporting a single political party. Another remarkable thing I came across was that there was a lot of cheering and noise, but not for once did the crowd become unruly or unmanageable.  There were thousands of supporters at the headquarters of both the candidates, however, one could not see a single cop there. There was so much order even in chaos. While the people waited at the headquarters and public places like the Times Square for Obama to speak for the first time after the results were declared, it seemed like one big midnight bash!
Youngsters, teenagers, professionals, senior citizens and people from all walks of life, of all the colours – black, white, brown were together in this. When eventually Obama appeared at his Chicago Headquarters (I hope I am not wrong here), all of them listened intently and with a lot of enthusiasm to what he had to say. The fact that Obama delivered an almost flawless speech is another story! Now when I compare all this with the Indian election paraphernalia, it is a complete contrast. Never ever have I seen supporters waving the National flag during elections. It is always those party flags, which are waved by the supporters. There are hundreds of cops which are deployed for a prime ministerial or chief ministerial candidate as there is a chance of the crowd going berserk. What also struck me was that I have never seen any of our honourable prime ministers connecting with the public, going out there, like Obama did. Moreover, there was nobody on the dias when Obama spoke.  Here in India, the dias looks like a caricature, with anyone and everyone even remotely connected with the Prime Minister (or not even that) trying to hog the limelight. Sometimes I wonder how didn’t the podium give in to the weight! There is so much of pomp and show, without any real substance in electoral campaigns run in India, most of the times.
One more aspect, I just realized while writing this. After Obama finished his dazzling and inspiring victory speech, the Vice President, his family and Obama’s wife and daughters joined him on stage. Obama was appropriately and without any inhibition was given a warm hug by his wife. He too acknowledged the hug gracefully. And here in India, if a certain minister holds his wife’s hand in public, my god, there is a furor. All the politicians with an orthodox and patriarchal mindset then get a chance to throw brickbats at him. I can never imagine , first of all such a young prime minister in India, to begin with, let alone his wife hugging him in public! In India, the minimum age for a PM is 70!
I think, even though these aspects might seem to be frivolous they reflect a lot about what we are as a nation and what US is as a nation. Of course, even US has a lot to learn from India, but I guess we have a lot more to learn from the one of the largest democracies in the world.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bidding Adieu to Dear Ganesha

Well, the 10-day frolic and frenzy of the much, no, desperately awaited Ganesh Festival has almost come to a fitting finale. It is finally time to say good bye to the lord with a crooked trunk and an adorable pot belly. Oh and it is ciao to lip smacking modaks too, unfortunately. Yes, good byes are always difficult and saddening but they hold a promise and hope that whoever you are bidding adieu to, will be back sometime. With our Ganpati bappa too, it is the same thing. He gives us a booster dose of hope, faith, love, reasoning and most importantly of being together, as a community, being united, till the next times he arrives. Like what legendary Bal Gangadhar Tilak had envisaged Ganeshotsav to be, a platform where people would come together and discuss teething issues faced by the society and country at large. Subsequently try and find solutions and work towards the betterment of the society and ultimately the country as a whole. There were skits, plays and random cultural performances contributing a lot to social awareness when Ganesh festival was initiated. That was how the people even from the grassroots could understand what is happening around them and what could be its implication on them.
Somehow, though over a period of time and changing sensibilities as well as mentalities, I can’t help but feel that the real purpose for which Bal Gangadhar Tilak initiated the festival has been sidelined. Today, it is more of dance, drama, ganpati pandals at every corner (unnecessarily so I feel) and dhol. Although I agree and I want to clarify that being an Indian and a Maharashtrian, I love dhol tasha and all. However, at the same time, there is too much of all this pomp and show, rather than looking at the immense potential Bappa’s arrival has for making the most ordinary people aware of what is happening around them – be it scams, health issues, rocket launches by India or be it border or water disputes. Ganesh festival is a fabulous vehicle for social awareness and enlightenment. Sorrowfully enough, this potential has long been forgotten. All the deity gets to listen and see is either Chikni Chameli or Munni Badnaam at maximum possible volume with people dancing like there is no tomorrow, with no respite and no change. All this, instead of discussions and work which can lead to a better us, a better India. I sometimes feel, no wonder he packs his bags in a mere 10 days. He must be saying – thank god it is just 10 days of listening to deafening music and not so praiseworthy dancing!

PS – We love you Lord Ganesha, come soon!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


As sweet as the name suggests, Barfi! did not prove  to be anything else. It is a sweet, touching and feel good film. Barfi! is the story of Murphy, who is deaf and dumb and so he barely manages to pronounce his name. But atta boy! He woos the new girl in town with his carefree heroics and absolutely no holds barred attitude towards life. Yes, despite him being differently abled. However, there is a roadblock in his love story. The girl he loves is soon to be married and unfortunately does not have the courage to go against the rules laid out for her. Things though, take a different turn and Barfi stumbles upon an autistic childhood friend. Life then becomes a roller coaster for all the three. Barfi’s lady love is drawn to him on account of some unpleasant circumstances. Barfi is now the autistic girl’s guardian and he simply cannot let go off her. At the same time, Barfi’s ex lady love has separated from her husband to be with him. In the end, both Barfi and his childhood friend die peacefully in each other’s arms and sadly and the girl Barfi had loved is left alone.

The saga of a deaf and dumb guy and an autistic girl played brilliantly by Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra is lovable, funny and yet it wrenches your heart to the core. The third angle, played very well by Ileana de Cruz is equally laudable. The screenplay in some areas is confusing, but you can surely sidetrack it! There is no loud, head banging music, or much of dialogues. The lead star cast emotes fabulously well without them. It seems that they don’t need them at all. You can see it all in their eyes, gestures and body language. Ranbir Kapoor’s antics are sure to remind you of the great Raj Kapoor and Charlie Chaplin in an enjoyable way. Ranbir Kapoor adds his special touch to the role. All said and done, Barfi, I feel is a celebration of life, and conquering your drawbacks and giving a damn about what life throws at you. Barfi tell you to be free spirited and be in the now and be happy and of course be Barfi!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Being Single – Cool or Uncool?

Hmm…..This is one thing I have been wondering since quite some time now. How good or bad is it, being single. Well, depends what kind of people you are surrounded with. If you are surrounded by oh-so-much in love couples, sneaking private moments in public, you are sure to feel left out sometimes. In case you have a majority of friends who are single and ready to mingle, then life I think is a bit better.  The worst part, I feel about being single when your friends are either married or engaged is that they keep on telling you – ‘why don’t you do something?’ Haha, well? I really blow my brains off thinking what do they mean by do something? Do they mean I should carry a placard saying ‘Here! I am single, any takers there?’ or do they mean I should be on a man prowl or something by going around in discs and night clubs? Frankly, I am yet to find an answer. But one thing is for sure, when all your friends are taken, you miss out on the girl time you have spent earlier when they were single. Then there is this flipside too, which, I am really proud of, about myself. You do not get into a habit of relying on someone. – Honey, sweetu, shona, etc (whatever it is )please can you do this for me? I have to get a haircut. Can you come with me? No messieurs and madams, ah ah.. These cling on sentences are not for me!
I have slipped into the role of self sufficiency easily (though it is another story that I would love to utter the above sentences once in a while ;p) and I feel swell about it! Cut the crap about single people not being happy I say. At the same time, however, I don’t deny the fact that whenever I see my friends with their spouses and even kids in some cases, a thought about having that special someone crosses my mind fervently. One should definitely have someone to hold onto, isn’t it? And someone who pampers you and makes you feel special.
Nevertheless, being single has its highs and lows. Sometimes you so want to meet up with an old gal pal of yours and ‘BLAH!’ you get a reply saying ‘babe, so sorry, my hubby is going out of the city for work. Need to see him off, help with the packing.’ Poof! There goes your plan down the drain. At the same time it is good that you can do whatever you want, without any honey or sweetheart lurking around you via an iPhone or Blackberry. You can go anywhere unannounced and won’t need to ask someone whether a darn dress looks good on you or not! Or you can flirt if you will! There are so many other benefits of being single! All said and done though, I really haven’t quite found the answer as whether being single rocks or sucks. But one thing is for sure I do say to myself – ofcourse I love you, even after I find someone else!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Krishna – The Eternal Charmer

After I read The Immortals of Meluha, I thought I could never revere anyone but Lord Shankar or Mahadev. He swept me off my feet, and how! Mahadev became the ‘dude’ lord for me.  However, my love for this dude lord notwithstanding, I  now, have a new found love and that is, the eternal charmer and love of Radha’s life, Lord Krishna. This is a result of a multimedia dance drama-ballet ‘Krishna’, by accomplished and popular South Indian actress and dancer Shobhana.

The show was held at Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium in Pune on September 6th at 7.30 pm. It was an evening to remember for a long time to come for me. The show started with some breathtaking snippets from Krishna’s life, the most prominent being Kansa’s death at the hands of adolescent or even younger Krishna. And then came the surprise element. Suddenly, the dancer playing Krishna and the others around started dancing on title track from the film ‘Dhoom’. From then on, it was a magical journey of major events in Lord Krishna’s life, depicted through dance, dialogues and bollywood songs. Mind you guys, the dialogues were not enacted by some non descript voice over artists. The voices Krishna, Radha, Gandhari, Draupadi, Duryodhan got were lent by none other than the likes of Shabana Azmi, Nandita Sen, Konkona Sensharma and Milind Soman. There were visual backgrounds, slides and beautiful music, in sync with the events and scenes portrayed from Krishna’s life and times. For example, the story where Krishna supports a mountain on his little finger to save the village from the rain gods is performed on the track Ghanan ghanan from Lagaan.

As Shobhna made her grand entry on the stage as the Lord, there was a huge uproar and whistling. Only Lord Krishna, amongst all the three gods from the ‘Trimurti’ (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh) seems to have accepted this life. Krishna never forbade himself or others to let go off the pleasures of this world. His romance and unparallel love for Radha, his brotherly love for Draupadi and his love for Yashoda and Nand were simply enchanting.  Shobhna danced away gracefully, aptly depicting Krishna with all the hues and shades of his character. The choreography was beautiful, blending Bharatnatyam with a dash of Bollywood, folk and contemporary. Some of the formations were simply mesmerizing. The dialogues were naughty, witty and humourous, adding spice to the ballet. While the overall tone of the ballet was clearly in tune with how we have been envisaging Krishna to be since childhood – impulsive, flamboyant, believing in the moment, no holds barred, witty, there were parts where the tragedy and grief of his life came across strongly.

The instance where the great Mahabharata war gets over and Gandhari mourns the death of her sons and curses Krishna, was like a spear which went right through my heart. I felt goose bumps at that moment. Another instance which stood out was when Radha is upset with Krishna because he is not paying any attention to her. It was performed beautifully on ‘Madhuban mein jo kanhaiyya,’ again from Lagaan. Last, but not the least, the show stealer moment was when Krishna, who runs this universe as is  believed, shows his ‘Viraat Roop’ to Arjuna. Krishna is rendering the Bhagwat Gita and at one point during his rendition he takes on that Virat Roop to convince Arjuna to go and fight. Yes, even if it meant raising a weapon against his family members. That Virat Roop was simply spectacular, and so was Shobhna again, all the while. She was an absolute delight, portraying Krishna in a unique way I had never seen before.  I was completely enamoured by her style, grace and posture essaying Krishna in the best way possible. But as all good things come to an end, the show got over at 10 pm and so does my blog! Jai Shri Krishna!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Trysts with Homemaking

I have been getting sermons (necessary and unnecessary) about cooking and managing a household, mostly kitchen, since I have been approaching my 20s.  “You should know how to manage the kitchen”, “Career vagaira is fine, you should pursue that, but you should know how to cook”, “what will you do when you get married and go to your ‘sasuraal’? Will you give them short stories instead of ‘poli’ ‘bhaaji’?” Such statements were a regular feature of my conversations with my grandma. Sometimes even with my mother. I used to squirm and make faces at such statements and loath them, wondering what is the big deal? I mean why does it matter so much if a girl cannot make perfectly fluffy and spherical ‘phulkas’ or cannot whip up a special, succinct vegetable dish for her boyfriend’s or husband’s friends or business associates? I have been pondering over these questions and issues related to it.  I have not yet got the answer, but I think it somewhere lies in the gender based roles. These roles are so tightly compartmentalized in our culture and tradition that it is almost impossible to go beyond them.  Although, it is another story that guys (some sensible ones) these days do help willingly in the household chores. However, the fact cannot be denied that how much ever successful career woman you are, household work (cooking, cleaning, managing kitchen) and taking care of kids is never going to bid adieu to you.

The point I am trying to come to is that homemaking is a pretty tough job. I wonder how my mom, her mom and all the women of their age and generation managed their households as well as work arenas so well for years together. Kudos to them! I think kitchen is one thing which can give you serious nightmares. You keep on getting dreams like shit! I did not keep the milk back in the refrigerator, I did not keep the curd for setting, or oh god what do I make for breakfast tomorrow or the worst what vegetable should I buy and cook for lunch? Phew! The kitchen management, care and maintenance issues are simply endless. You are never really done with kitchen.  You simply have to shut shop and forget about it till the next sunrise. Kitchen has never been my forte and I guess it never will be. But with my grandma (who is an absolutely amazing cook) gone for a sabbatical, I have been compelled to take over the charge of the kitchen.  I am sometimes miffed with the umpteen things you got to do associated with home making. Still, I am strangely satisfied with myself for being able to manage that pretty decently. I have been preparing and doing things I never even dreamt of. Yes, I set curd and go shopping for vegetables, like a seasoned homemaker. I also squabble over prices of veggies!! All this, along with my work, yes! I have now realized that knowing how to manage your house is as tough and unsettling sometimes as your career or profession. Perhaps, it is even difficult than climbing up the professional ladder. Home making is surely not a piece of cake! I think I will wrap up here as I got to go do some preparations for breakfast tomorrow! Adios!

Monday, September 3, 2012

India wins in Style against the Kiwis

The Men in Blue yet again proved their supremacy on their home pitch, beating New Zealand by 5 wickets and a whole day to spare, today in Bengaluru in the second test match. Chasing a tricky target of 261, India started well, with Sehwag and Gambhir putting together 77 for the first wicket. Sehwag was the first one to go, outsmarted by off spinner Jeetan Patel, bowled at 38. Gambhir did not last too long after that, as runs dried out after Sehwag’s dismissal. Gambhir finally succumbed to a fine delivery by Trent Boult. The runs were almost down to a trickle and Cheteshwar Pujara along with master blaster Sachin Tendulkar began a mission to steady the ship. By lunch, it was still no sign of danger for India, even though it was 88 for 2. Post lunch, Pujara and Tenbdulkar got back to work again. Both the batsmen played well, punishing the bowlers when they strayed from the line and defending when required. Both carried on, posing problems for New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor. He seemed to be running out of ideas fast. Tea was taken early, due to a drizzle. At that stage India was comfortably placed at 147 for 2. However, post tea, the tables turned, albeit momentarily, as Pujara (48) and Sachin Tendulkar (27) got out in quick succession. While the little master again got his stumps uprooted, this time around by Southee, Pujara was deceived by Patel. Raina came in and went back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers. India was down from 147 for 2 to a miserable 166 for 5. India was definitely in a spot of bother now and Ross Taylor had a chance to smile. The chasing demons which have been chasing Indian team for a long time seemed to have resurfaced. But not this time around. Top scorer with a century from the first innings, Kohli and captain courageous MS Dhoni ensured that the demons were kept away.

Dhoni was unbeaten on 48, a sniff away from yet another test half century. On the other hand, Kohli picked up from the first innings and played beautiful shots all over the ground for his unbeaten 51. Both of them played their natural game, though with a certain doggedness and caution. They put together a fabulous 96-run partnership which was dotted with some good hits to the fence. Kohli was his flamboyant self, hitting picture perfect straight drives, cover drives. Dhoni on the other hand was no less, proving to be a strong support for the youngster. The run chase suddenly did not seem as ominous as it did some time back. The last 21 runs were scored in fours and a fantastic six by the captain was the nail in the coffin for the Kiwis. India clinched the test Series 2-0 with aplomb. Earlier in the test match, the New Zealand batsmen showed a lot of resolve and positive attitude, scoring 365 in the first innings. The highlight was of course Kiwi captain Ross Taylor, who crafted a good knock of 113. Taylor was supported well by Kruger Wan Wyk and Doug Bracewell who scored 71 and 43 respectively. The New Zealand bowlers too, did their job very well, spearheaded by Tim Southee. It appeared that New Zealand had not at all let the defeat in the first test get to their nerves. They were pumped up this time. Tim Southee was brilliant, snatching 7 Indian wickets for a mere 64 runs. The wickets included that of Gambhir’s and Kohli’s. It was a remarkable performance by Southee, considering that Indian pitches are generally believed to be conducive for the spinners. Southee ensured that New Zealand got a slim lead of 12 runs.
It was then over to Ojha, Ashwin and Zaheer Khan to restrict the Kiwi batsmen to the least possible total. R Ashwin and Ojha were amongst wickets again, with Ashwin adding yet another 5 wicket haul to his test match statistics. Ojha and Umesh Yadav got two wickets a piece while Zaheer Khan had to make do with one. New Zealand second innings was wrapped up on 248, setting India a target of 260. James Franklin (41), Taylor (35) and Van Wyk (31) were the top scorers in the New Zealand line up.

R. Ashwin deservedly won the man of the series, having got 18 wickets in 2 test matches and Kohli was rightfully adjourned the man of the match for his century in the first innings and match winning unbeaten half century in the second innings. The comparatively young and inexperienced Indian team, sans Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman was jubiliant, as Dhoni called them for a photograph with the winner’s trophy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is Our Country a Real Sport?

The blame game our politicians indulge in notwithstanding, sports is the last thing on the minds of our policy makers. Vijay Kumar and Mary Koms are rare species in our land of abundance. Their success stories are a result of sheer grit, hard work and never-say-die attitude. Not to forget the almost complete lack of resources, to perhaps compete even at the national level, leave alone Olympics. But still, these two, the underdogs and least known athletes, got us glory. It is another story that now Vijay Kumar has been promoted and suddenly Mary Kom is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s muse. Just the other day I read in a renowned daily newspaper that in Delhi there are many youngsters, keen on carving a career in tennis cannot do so. The reason? No tennis courts to practice and Delhi and NCR’s amazing public transport, which does not help in transporting the public at all. Metro is ofcourse an exception. The point I wonder, me being an avid sports enthusiast, is that, when a country like Jamaica can produce world class athletes, why can’t India? Why are we so apathetic about sports, when the country can have an unbeatable pool of talent? The answer I guess is lack of proper channelization of resources and initiatives and incentives for sportsmen and women. I mean what else can we expect, where a tainted minister wants to hop on the first plane to London and be the first one in London for Olympics, even before the sports minister.  Does all this mean that getting to play at a national level is only a fortune that some privileged few can afford? Does no one care about that one talented athlete, stuck without any aid or resources in a remote village in say, Haryana or Maharashtra?

On the other hand we have Unmukt Chand whose being declared ‘failed’ has created quite a stir. Yes, he did get us the U 19 World Cup and we are proud of him and the way he has led the team. So can’t we just let go of the examination? Or give the bloke a chance to reappear and prove himself on this bouncy pitch? Delhi University and St. Stephens are caught in an imbroglio and Unmukt, unfortunately, is not going to be easily ‘Mukt’ from this hassle. Sports can bring the country together, like nothing else. Cricket in India is a testimony to that.  I mean cricket is more than cricket for Indians. Invictus, the movie has shown how South Africa gained from its Rugby team, which was down in dumps. When it started doing well, the whole nation came together, going beyond petty considerations of race, religion, etc. Forget about mobile phones, we need more of Sushil Kumars. Yogeshwar Dutts, Saina Nehwals and Mary Koms. And for that, can we have a little bit of consideration for sports and overall improvement of infrastructure? 

Friday, August 31, 2012

She arrives with Aplomb, a la Goddess

It was almost a couple of days since my sister-in-law was admitted to the hospital for her much awaited delivery. Assumptions, predictions (about the delivery and sex of the baby) and visits by the gynaecologist to my sister in law’s room flew thick and fast. We were getting slightly edgy, as even induced labour pain did not seem to have had an effect on the little one inside. It was 5th June when my sister in law was admitted to the hospital and till morning of 7th June it was status quo. It was expected that most probably 7 th would be the day, but when we didn’t know. The would be born baby’s grandparents were stationed 24X7 in the hospital, while the father and aunt were doing periodic but regular rounds. It was again, a day of anticipation on 7th, as I got up in the morning, having come back the previous evening. I got up, did all my morning stuff, breakfast, etc and I settled down to write (in all readiness), as was my routine. I had just switched my laptop on and was getting into the groove, when my phone rang. I almost jumped with excitement. It was around 10 am, I remember, probably a few minutes to 10. “It is a girl”, my father and the proud grandpa exclaimed, excitement brimming in his voice. “Yay Whoo hoo”, I screamed on the phone, elated to no bounds. I was shaking with exhilaration and happiness. I told my dad I am off to the hospital and hung up.

Around 15 minutes later, I was there, outside the Operation theatre or ICU or whatever it was (I didn’t care) and saw my father waiting outside. My father briefed me on how the lil’ thing created quite a furor. My sis in law had to be wheeled in the OT urgently on account of a minor complication. And the little angel came out in a mere 25-30 minutes!  The doctor, I was told, called her a naughty baby who was slated for a grand and rushed entry in this world. After that, I gestured to my dad, “where do I go?” my father pointed to a door and I just rushed in there. I was just too jumpy to wait. I went inside and there she was. The cutest, most chubby and amazing baby I had ever seen in my life. She was wrapped in a black blanket sort of a thing, her eyes half closed, rosy, chubby cheeks, a flat triangle for nose, loads of thick, black curly hair and beautiful nails (yes her nails looked as if she had done manicure inside). She was curled up snugly in her father’s arms, without a worry in the world.

I just kept looking at her. In my mind, I said, “this is unbelievable!” OH MY GOD! I am an aunt now! And this is the ‘thing’ we were waiting for, so eagerly. There were a couple of nurses there, and they were going absolutely gaga over that bundle of joy. They did not seem to have had enough of her and took my niece from her father’s arms. My mother, her grandmother too, appeared there, just then, after ensuring my sister in law was doing okay. Finally, after marveling over every detail of my new born niece, I took her in my arms. Whoa! Was she heavy or what? She weighed more than 4 kg, surpassing even her father, who was a heavy baby. But I didn’t care how much she weighed. I held her, with utmost care and looked at that bundle in my arms. It was the best feeling I had in a long time. Now this little bundle is almost 3 months old and every time I take her in my arms, the feeling prevails! Love you, my dearest niece!